If you look for anybody who has NOT had difficulty finding small change, I doubt you'll find anybody in Mumbai,except the super rich guys who do not need coins. But us, small middle class types, who need change for everything(btw did you know at the Sea Link toll booth you have to pay Rs 55.50 paise(and where are these 50 paise coins?!!) it is a very very tough life.
The auto or taxi drivers often claim they do not have the change that they are required to return. So, if you don't have the right amount, they keep the rest, since it is YOUR fault that you do not have change. Or, they will not take you in, if they are honest, saying that they will ferry you only if you have the appropriate change-- that is fair from their side, but unfair, because we all know how tough it is to get an auto.
The chemists or some stores will give you some toffee/chickets/mouth freshners as change, since they too are bogged down by the lack of coins.
The other day I begged one shop-keeper to give me change for one hundred bucks. Or give me the name of the shop/dealer who can help... this business of having been a journalist, you try all tricks. He said it won't happen for one hundred bucks. Usually, it will be only for several bagfuls. And the dealer takes a ten buck commission on one hundred bucks!
That is why we do have coin shortage in this city. Some fellows are hoarding coins, to recycle it back to shops in need, making a profit. It has to be on a large scale for it to be profitable. It is unbelievable. But barring one report in a Mumbai tabloid, which I cannot recall covered this hoarding aspect, have any of you noticed it in any newspaper at all?
I joke that when I start getting more Rs 5 coins, I will put it away in my locker...
But I must say, the last two days, the rare thing has happened, I managed to get five bucks as change from auto drivers.. no fuss, no haggle..Phew.. Hope this bonanza lasts.